Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm in Charge

Michael Gazzaniga recently wrote a book called "Who's in Charge".  This book covers a number of issues.  The author's work on split brain individuals is covered, including his reaction to the first data to be gathered which spoke directly to what was going on. There is a lot of information about the ideas of modules in the brain, and the way in which they work and solve problems.  Consciousness is seen as constructed from theses modules, with an interpreter which fills in what needs to be filled in to make sense of what has happened.  A lot of information is presented which shows that our intentions and plans are put together after the relevant behaviors happen.  Levels of functioning, and emergent properties and processes at the various levels are part of the mix, as are applications to legal proceedings.  Five modules are presented relevant to moral decisions: reducing suffering, participating in give and take, respecting elders and authorities, being loyal to a group, and pursuing purity and the positive.  Evolutionary theory is relied upon quite a lot.  I got a lot out of this book.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sybil Considered

The book "Sybil" came out just about when I started my career in psychology.  It is interesting to reflect on how it would be different to be starting out now,with "Sybil Exposed" to process as well.  It was a lot easier back then to know what to believe.  There is so much more information about people, the brain, and what has happened in the past, now.  What a job it is to know how to help people, and yourself, I guess.  "Sybil Exposed" tells a lot about the three women who worked together to produce the book "Sybil".  Personality theory is changing a lot, and DSM-V will treat it much differently than DSM-IV has.  The Healer to focus on here is Dr. Cornelia Wilbur.  She worked hard to help people.  I'm always concerned when a healer focuses too heavily on one diagnosis.  Breadth of experience and focus seems important to me.  It's worth the time to read this book, particularly if "Sybil" was an important book for you at the time it came out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seven Steeples and a "Peculiarly Saddened Life"

I just finished reading "From Under the Cloud at Seven Steeples."  It was published in 2002.  There are several important characters in the book, Anna Agnew herself, the author of this book (Lucy Jane King), and the hospitals in which Anna Agnew spent time. Anna Agnew's book, published in 1887 (From Under the Cloud) is available free on Google Books. It is an early example of a person's description of their psychological problems and treatment. There are some good descriptions that show her state of mind and reactions to the changes in treatments and hospital personnel. In this (King's) book, there is a summary near the end of the changes in psychiatric treatments, which is straightforward and clear. The various support groups and legislative supports for people with psychological problems are described. The differences between how men and women fare in the system are described. All in all, these books are worth reading.  Lucy Jane King has written a lot about the history of psychology.